Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I'm a very organized, schedule-driven person. When I know what to expect and know what I'm walking into, I'm happy and relaxed. For a long time, this was easy; I was single, and so, I suppose, the master of my own universe. I've been seeing "Mike" for a few months now and I will admit one of the first things that drew me to him was his free-spirited, easy-going nature.
Here's the issue: Mike is constantly making plans on our behalf, including last-minute plans, or changing the plans at the last minute, or committing us to things without telling me, and it makes me crazy. Here's an example. His sister was coming through town from the Valley, and he forgot to tell me until that afternoon, when he said we were having dinner with her and her husband. Well I had planned to hit the gym right after work, so I had to bag that to get to dinner on time. And then on the way, Mike mentioned he'd texted a handful of mutual friends who all wanted to meet us afterward for drinks and maybe a show at another bar that didn't even start until 10 p.m.
I waited until the next day to try and explain to Mike why this upset me. He really doesn't get it. All he heard was he screwed up, and he got really defensive. His point was, we knew we would be hanging out, and that had always been the plan, so what did it matter that the plan shifted to include dinner, and other people? That really wasn't my point. My point was I like to be prepared and I like to know the plan and it makes me anxious when life is happening to me and I have little input or time to get ready for things.
Can I make him understand this is an issue? Right now he just sees me as an uptight control freak. I don't want this to be the thing that takes down this relationship. I am really falling for this guy. Help?
As one Type A to another, I feel your pain. A lot of folks think us A-listers get stressed when we don't know the plan simply because we can't stand to not be in control, and while there may be occasional truth there, it's more than that. We like to be efficient. We like to make the absolute best use of the minute, the hour. We completely hate to waste time. When a person we love lays out a well-thought-out plan, our hearts swell with gratitude and joy.
Right now, your heart is feeling bruised, confused, and even discounted. Try to explain to your dude that there's so much more here than simply making sure you have the right outfit for the occasion. A recent Huffington News post offered advice to those daring to date an A; I'd suggest giving that a read to ground you in the things you want Mike to understand about your differences. Perhaps the most essential one comes at the article's conclusion, when the author reminds us that not only do Type As not expect everyone to be like them, they're in fact glad for the differences. This sentiment rings true in your letter, too. You are grateful for the balance and energy your boyfriend brings to the table. You just wish he was more sensitive about those differences.
Speaking of which: you've spent a lot of time stewing about how Mr. Boyfriend isn't thinking about your needs. But what about his? The same Huffington Post writer penned a second article offering advice to those lovelorn Type As romancing Type Bs — for instance, what you perceive as chaos may be his own approach to organization. I would suggest giving this piece a read as well, as you remember that relationships are based on compromise and meeting in the middle, and the solution to your communications struggles will likely lie some where between A and B.
After A and B comes C – which in this case can stand for communication and compromise.
Sounds like you've got a good handle on communication. You rode the night out, tried your best to let everyone have their fun and maybe even enjoyed yourself a little, and then made sure to talk with him about your feelings the next day. Well done. He, obviously, can work on his communication about the little things and what's going on in his world better with you, though. This is not a big lift and he's definitely not a lost cause.
Because there's compromise. You guys are such polar opposites in regards to planning and personality that you'll both have to make some individual changes to get this relationship to work without constant stress and frustration.
Yes, he'll have to be much better about appreciating the way you tick and be better about keeping you in the loop on all the places his brain is racing around to. And he'll have to work at not springing surprise plans and curveballs on you on a regular basis. He's clearly is a people pleaser, and since you clearly rank among his favorite people he'll take this to heart and try harder to communicate and compromise.
But you have to try harder, too. Do you really want to take the spontaneity out of your relationship and life? Or surgically remove the fun factor from Mike? Of course not. So sometimes you're just going to have to take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, let Mike be Mike, appreciate that Mike is Mike and that's kinda enjoyable, and roll with it. A deviation from your regularly scheduled life or one missed night at the gym shouldn't derail you, disappoint you or send your blood pressure through the roof. Even Type As can grow from, and maybe even enjoy, a little randomness every once in a while.